News-Gazette: Brad Underwood cleared in DIA Investigation into his coaching

jrichisamazing —

I certainly hope you’re right.

Again, what the faculty members seem to be focusing on is the process. And in my humble opinion, I think they’re right — the process is open to criticism.

Implement a process in which if an initial in-house investigation concludes that no misconduct occurred, an independent investigation is (assuming the initial complaint or complaints aren’t withdrawn or abandoned) automatically commissioned (no “ifs, ands or buts”, no discretion, no one is put on the hot seat of having to make a judgment call on the matter) which reviews not only the original complaint(s) but the in-house investigation.

Well, I've had my say. Time to let others chime in.
This sort of thinking drives me nuts. The victim of unfairness deserves justice. I'll say it again to be certain it's clear: the victim of unfairness deserves justice.

That said, 'fairness' and justice has to be thought out with regards to all parties involved, not just the accuser. Without going into detail or making assumptions regarding this case, suffice to say there are bad actors out there who will make things up to save themselves or at least further their interests.

Let me ask you some questions:
Do you think there's a conflict of interest on the accuser's part?
If the accuser has a conflict of interest, even if it's personal face-saving or improving their chance at an NCAA petition or having a sympathetic story to potential recruiters, would that not factor into whether to invest more and more in investigations?
Who do you think pays for the time and expense of more investigations?
What happens to the accused and other parties during this whole process?
Have you ever been falsely accused by someone who stands to gain from you being accused?
Ultimately, what's at stake and what's to be gained if you get to the bottom of the alleged wrong-doing?

If you take a serious physical crime for example, there's a lot at stake. And you could be preventing a terrible tragedy down the road by stopping the perpetrator now. Racial harassment is a hot button issue that I wouldn't want to downplay, so I look to the report for what was done:
"As for charges of racial harassment, this drew the attention of UI Chancellor Robert Jones, two faculty reps and Keiko Price, all respected African-Americans. They found the charge unsubstantiated."
Does that sound like they took it seriously?
What more do you want done?

I have my own opinion of this situation, and I see high potential for bad actors to play on either side of this. However, I don't see anything productive coming out of further investigations, and I do see plenty of opportunity for harm. Given who's cleared Underwood in the internal investigation, I'm ok with this.

And to be honest, I think outside investigations are generally more credible *provided* you have investigators who don't have their own agenda, and are actually trying to be constructive with their findings. I just find this thing to be a hot mess that's better off left alone at this point. Not enough to be gained by airing it out and forcing more bad actions by pressing the matter.
 
An alternative take: I think MS (and dad) were mad he wasn't the featured player and pg with the ball in his hands running the offense, even though he failed to win that job despite given every opportunity. To make sure he didn't have to sit out his transfer year, they went with the 'abusive environment' story. Which if so is selfish, petty, vindictive and amoral. Either way, he's a punk, and his dad too, and they deserve all the verbal abuse our fans can rain down upon them.
Ding ding ding ding...we have a winner. Spot on.
 
Was Smith the only one to gain immediate eligibility? Didn't think either TeJon or Ebo were able to play. Guess it was only one guy that was picked on.
I have seen that dynamic often over the years, the person who complains, writes 500 word emails circumvents the chain of command in an organization ends up getting special consideration just so he will "shut up and co quietly."
 
Likes: CHI 1086
Let me ask you some questions:
Do you think there's a conflict of interest on the accuser's part?
If the accuser has a conflict of interest, even if it's personal face-saving or improving their chance at an NCAA petition or having a sympathetic story to potential recruiters, would that not factor into whether to invest more and more in investigations?
Who do you think pays for the time and expense of more investigations?
What happens to the accused and other parties during this whole process?
Have you ever been falsely accused by someone who stands to gain from you being accused?
Ultimately, what's at stake and what's to be gained if you get to the bottom of the alleged wrong-doing?
I have my own opinion of this situation, and I see high potential for bad actors to play on either side of this. However, I don't see anything productive coming out of further investigations, and I do see plenty of opportunity for harm. Given who's cleared Underwood in the internal investigation, I'm ok with this.

And to be honest, I think outside investigations are generally more credible *provided* you have investigators who don't have their own agenda, and are actually trying to be constructive with their findings. I just find this thing to be a hot mess that's better off left alone at this point. Not enough to be gained by airing it out and forcing more bad actions by pressing the matter.[/QUOTE]

I'm not the poster you're replying to, but I'm another poster who thinks this should have been handled by an outside investigation.

Do you think there's a conflict of interest on the accuser's part?
To the best of my understanding, we don't know who the accuser is. It's possible that whoever the accuser is had reasons to lie. This will be truly in the case of nearly any accusation.

If the accuser has a conflict of interest, even if it's personal face-saving or improving their chance at an NCAA petition or having a sympathetic story to potential recruiters, would that not factor into whether to invest more and more in investigations?
Probably it should have little impact on the university's decision making process. "We didn't look into it because he seemed like he had a pretty compelling reason to lie" is not going to play well if the accusations are later found out to be true. More important to the magnitude of the process would be any sort of collaborating evidence and documentation.

Who do you think pays for the time and expense of more investigations?
The university/DIA DID pay for the time and expense of an investigation. They, IMO, should have used that money to pay for an outside investigation. It would likely be more expensive anyway, but for the extra money you'll be getting a more credible investigation.

What happens to the accused and other parties during this whole process?
Probably the same thing that happened during this investigation. As the investigation continues, the AD likely works with the investigators to continue evaluating that decision.

Have you ever been falsely accused by someone who stands to gain from you being accused?
Yes, but being falsely accused of something does not imbue individuals with infallible insight into these issues, so I'm not sure why it's relevant.

Ultimately, what's at stake and what's to be gained if you get to the bottom of the alleged wrong-doing?
If you find the allegations to be true? You protect your student athletes from abuse. Student athletes are on the short end of a huge power imbalance, and their protection should be a very high priority of every university.

Racial harassment is a hot button issue that I wouldn't want to downplay, so I look to the report for what was done:
"As for charges of racial harassment, this drew the attention of UI Chancellor Robert Jones, two faculty reps and Keiko Price, all respected African-Americans. They found the charge unsubstantiated."
Does that sound like they took it seriously?
It's hard to say based on the above wording. What does "drew the attention of" mean? Did they personally investigate the issue? Did they oversee it? Did they read a report about the investigation? I candidly don't know what role these people had in the process, so it's hard to speak about how seriously they took it.

What more do you want done?
The complaint came at the end of a season that saw an unprecedented (for Illinois) number of players leave the program while they still had eligibility remaining. Perhaps the most in program history (if anyone knows of a year more than 6 left please feel free to correct me). It also came at the end of a season where the coach's behavior towards players gave the AD reason to step in and address the issue with the coach. And in that environment, the investigation, done by people inside the university and likely inside the DIA, failed to ask the unprecedented number of players who were leaving about the allegations. I don't know how anyone can think that isn't a bad look. This at a university that dealt with a scandal in our football program not 4 years ago about one of the same issues complained of here that resulted in the football coach and AD both losing their jobs. It's a bad look. Have the investigation done by outside professionals and avoid all of this ugliness.
 
An alternative take: I think MS (and dad) were mad he wasn't the featured player and pg with the ball in his hands running the offense, even though he failed to win that job despite given every opportunity. To make sure he didn't have to sit out his transfer year, they went with the 'abusive environment' story. Which if so is selfish, petty, vindictive and amoral. Either way, he's a punk, and his dad too, and they deserve all the verbal abuse our fans can rain down upon them.
The thing that confuses me about the whole waiver issue is Whitman saying, "I had a chance to work with Missouri on the substance of the waiver for Mark, and I felt comfortable with the contents of that waiver. I felt comfortable with the justification that they provided. I would not have supported the waiver for Mark if the justification was something that made me feel uncomfortable or was inaccurate." If Mark Smith, in this waiver, had alleged mistreatment of medical injuries, racial harassment, and more, I find it hard to believe Whitman would have "felt comfortable with the contents". I would love to some day get a hold of the NCAA's file on that waiver...
 
I have my own opinion of this situation,
Fair enough. I won't quote everything, but a rebuttal on certain points:

I wouldn't agree that all accusations give incentive to lie. It really depends on how the accusations are handled that provide incentives. Many people keep accusations to themselves despite the personal cost -it's not uncommon.

If you're saying the likelihood of false accusations doesn't affect how you conduct the investigation, we can agree to disagree. I think having a filter, and escalation point, make a lot of sense, which is what the University choose to do, smartly, IMHO. It will be interesting if an accuser steps forward and takes issue with it, but sometimes an accuser knows they're on crappy footing, and will back off, which is better for all involved if they were part of another agenda. I understand why you would not want it handled this way, though.

You protect your student athletes from abuse.
I went so far as to repeat myself on this point to make sure it was understood, so this is restating my point with your own take on it. I hope we can agree that "abusing" athletes is a bad thing. You're going to get different ideas on what constitute "abuse", so there's that, of course.

It's hard to say based on the above wording. What does "drew the attention of" mean? Did they personally investigate the issue? Did they oversee it? Did they read a report about the investigation? I candidly don't know what role these people had in the process, so it's hard to speak about how seriously they took it.
It's a way of saying they were personally involved, but not endorsing every detail. They had the chance to ask questions, and ensure they could stand by the results, absent some unusual revelation. It's common practice in the legal and PR world to leave a statement like that with some wiggle room. From what they know, the investigation was generally transparent and fair to all sides. They would need some sort of an excuse/reason to walk back that statement.

The complaint came at the end of a season that saw an unprecedented (for Illinois) number of players leave the program
...It's a bad look. Have the investigation done by outside professionals and avoid all of this ugliness.
This is IMO cherry-picking. Everyone knows turnover has gone through the roof in college bball, and it's going to spike with a coaching change. In addition, we have a 180 degree change going from a "player's coach" to a "coaches coach". It was more dramatic than expected, so your point is not only factually true, but also has validity. However, it's by no means a smoking gun when looked at in context. Furthermore, these accusations didn't come out until the transfers took place (correct me if anyone knows that to be false) which makes the accusations convenient, if not suspicious.

Finally, doing this as an independent investigation brings up a variety of issues, risks, and costs, that are bad for the University. The University gained valuable insight and has greater certainty about how a show-cause dismissal would play out, and what direction they should go under the circumstances.

In cold harsh terms, the University has invested an enormous amount in Underwood, and if he's on good footing, it would be disastrous to undercut him. There would be many aspects to the fallout, none of them good. There's good reason for the University to be cautious on this incident, and going through an internal vetting of the accusations first.
 
Likes: KevinC
Going external is losing control of the narrative. The first thing you know, it's all over the Chicago print and broadcast media, thereby sullying whatever reputation we may have in that major metropolitan area. Then the repeated inquiries about why is the investigation taking so long? Then cries that the fix is in should the accused be found innocent. Josh said the DIA and the University has a process and the process worked, and that's good enough for me. However, did BU's temper and language get the better of him? That is undisputed.
 
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
Here's a copy of the internal 36 page report that Rob at Illinireport posted. Interesting read.

http://illinireport.info/2019/04/treadmill-the-full-report-underwood-mark-smith-naughty-words-etc/
Based on that report and my own experience as a faculty member and the resulting reading between the lines, this sounds like the two faculty with concerns were initially concerned with the process, the process was described in full to them with support reiterated by pretty much everyone involved, and then the two with concerns transferred the complaints primarily to the topic of reporting requirements and procedures. Of course, there are likely other emails not included that paint a more complete picture, so I am open to revising my opinion based on any additional released information.

Believe me, based on my experience on a university faculty, there are a fair number of us who get very nitpicky about policy and transparency issues and territorial about when they feel their authority is being bypassed on an issue.
 
Likes: illiniCA
Little Rock, Arkansas
Here's a copy of the internal 36 page report that Rob at Illinireport posted. Interesting read.

http://illinireport.info/2019/04/treadmill-the-full-report-underwood-mark-smith-naughty-words-etc/
In a nutshell the two recommendations by LeRoy and Raycraft were:

1. Basically a revising of the student handbook so students know they can report when coaches do bad things as well as students.

2. That they (LeRoy and Raycraft and other members of the athletic board) are kept in the loop when things happen because that’s how it used to be.

For number one, even though the students are probably briefed ad nausium about how/when/why/where to report, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to specifically say “if your coach is the guilty party, and you don’t trust the normal reporting procedures, here’s who to talk to”. Critical thinkers would figure it out on their own, but that sort of change would be a catch all for anyone that couldn’t figure it out and would also cover the univerity’s butt.

The second part was handled perfectly by Whitman and I encourage people to read it to see his full response.
 
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
This whole situation is creating a team bond and us vs the world mentality, which is perfect. There is no speech that would ever promote this kind of team unity.

Thank you, faculty, for inadvertently making us a better team in 2019-2020!

That's my take.
Wait, why is this on the faculty? They participated in the review, but isn't in the former play who made seemingly unsubstantiated claims the one we should be thanking? Or the person who leaked it to the media (this may be the same as the previous person)?
 
Birmingham, AL
His demeanor and interactions with the players have also changed, and there was a noticeable difference in the way the players reacted to him as the year progressed. It's also classic psychology that a person who is initially overly punitive and then relaxes is more liked by those around him/her. Let's face it, whether from Mark Smith or whoever, something like this was coming. I, for one, am glad this happened early and that Underwood made some positive changes.
 
His demeanor and interactions with the players have also changed, and there was a noticeable difference in the way the players reacted to him as the year progressed. It's also classic psychology that a person who is initially overly punitive and then relaxes is more liked by those around him/her. Let's face it, whether from Mark Smith or whoever, something like this was coming. I, for one, am glad this happened early and that Underwood made some positive changes.
Culture is not easy to quantify but the program was mentally soft for a long time and things have changed. I think that also contributed to a calmer BU